Any bone in your body can be fractured, and your calcaneus, commonly called the heel bone, is no exception. This bone can be fractured during exercise, and athletes need to be aware of the signs of a calcaneus fracture. Here are four things you need to know about this athletic injury.
How do calcaneus fractures occur?
If you are a long distance runner, you can develop a stress fracture in your heel bone. This happens due to overuse; hitting your heel against the hard ground for mile after mile can eventually lead to cracks in the bone. Other endurance athletes like ballet dancers can also develop a stress fracture in this bone.
Calcaneus fractures can also occur due to a strong force against your heel bone. This can happen if you fall or twist your foot while you're training.
What are the signs of this fracture?
If you break your heel bone, you'll feel pain in the area. Your heel may bruise and swell, and in severe cases, you won't be able to put any weight on your foot. If your fracture is mild, you'll still be able to walk, but it will hurt, and you may limp.
How is it treated?
Calcaneus fractures are treated by a team of medical specialists including podiatrists, physical therapists, and surgeons. If your fracture is mild, you will have to wear a cast and will need to keep your weight off of your feet for two weeks. Once you're allowed to stand and walk again, you'll work with a physical therapist to regain your range-of-motion in your foot and ankle. At about eight weeks, you may start to put some weight on your foot, and by 12 weeks, if all goes well, you will be out of your cast and putting weight on your foot.
If your fracture is severe, surgery may be required. This procedure is performed under general anesthesia, so you'll be completely asleep and in no pain. Your surgeon will make an incision in your foot to access your heel bone and will then use plates or screws to hold the bones in place while they heal. You'll be sewn up, and your doctors will watch you closely to make sure that you don't suffer any complications like infection or delayed wound healing.
How long does it take to recover?
You should expect a fairly long recovery time if you break your heel bone. It can take up to three months for you to be able to put your full weight on your injured foot, and even once you're completely healed, you may have decreased range of motion in that foot and lingering pain.
For more information, contact Elmhurst Podiatry Center Ltd or a similar location.